Bobby Wilkinson's Pre-Match Thoughts
Ahead of Wealdstone’s crucial fixture against Dulwich Hamlet on Saturday, Dec O’Reilly spoke to Bobby Wilkinson to gather the manager’s thoughts before the Stones’ penultimate home game of the season.
Updates for Jake Sheppard and Connor Stevens…
“Both players are fully fit and will play on Saturday.”
On the upcoming Dulwich game…
“This is the one. We say every week that it is a big game, but this is the one. If you don’t win on Saturday, you won’t make it. Everyone must turn up and be positive because this is the one we have to win.
“I have to remind everyone, if you got offered this at the start of the season as a new squad in our first season together, would you have taken this position? We are a point outside [the play-offs] with three games to go and I think everyone would. I’m very proud of where we are and what we still need to achieve, it’s still going to be tough, but we have to beat Dulwich at home.”
Focusing on ourselves and not the teams around us…
“If we do what we need to do, we’ll get in there because they [teams around us] all need to play each other. Concord have to go to Woking this week, on Monday Dartford have Billericay and St. Albans play Concord. We have to give ourselves a chance [of reaching the top seven] when we go into Monday’s game [against Chelmsford City] and the only way to give ourselves that chance is by winning on Saturday [against Dulwich Hamlet].”
Preparations this week…
“We had a big team meeting [last] Monday. We were very focused and we trained extremely hard [last] Monday to take all the focus away from last Saturday [at Hampton & Richmond], get the boys re-focused, re-motivated and start believing that this journey is no where near finished yet.
“We have got something to play for, that’s why I’m so happy with these boys. It’s only one point, we could go back in there [on] Saturday, that is an unbelievable achievement with just these three games to go but we have got to keep believing. Last week [after the East Thurrock win] we went in there [the top seven] and no one expected us to, then we’ve come back out and now we’ve got to get back in there.”
On the mindset of the players…
“My boys showed me who they were on Monday [at training] because they were all focused, they turned up to training early and trained extremely hard. They could have walked in with slumped faces asking can we or can we not [make the play-offs] but no. They turned up determined ready to train hard and play hard on Saturday [against Dulwich Hamlet].
“That is a credit to them, but that has been how they’ve been all season. They left the training session buzzing on Monday, we’ll prepare them really well, there’s another tough training session tomorrow [Thursday] and then we will be focused.”
On leaving no time to rely on hope…
“I spoke to my players about the word hope, you won’t get a second chance. If you get a chance to score, you have to score because you don’t get a second chance. We were given a second chance because of what happened on the weekend [results going our way], it’s a stage of the season now which pressure is building and it’s there for a reason. There is no second chance now, that is the pressure this week because there isn’t five or so games left, there’s no second chance.
“I’ve told my forwards, if you get a chance to score, you have to score. I’ve told my midfielders, if you get a chance to score, you have to score. I’ve told my defenders, if you come up for a set-play and get a chance, you have to score. At 5:30, there’s no ifs-or-buts, it does not matter if we played well if we don’t win.
“You have to play well, you have to turn up, you have to enjoy the day by being focused, determined and doing what we need to do to win a game of football. I don’t care if we win with beautiful football or ugly football, we have to win because there is not second chance.”
Needing the support on Saturday…
“We need the crowd to be even louder than they always are, we need you to sing when it’s nil-nil, if we’re one-nil down or one-nil up we will need you singing for 90 minutes. If we don’t win, we won’t be singing until next season. It’s important that we don’t let the occasion pass us by, at 5:30 will we be taking it to the final week [of the season], if we don’t win [then] it’s over.
“Dulwich will be playing without pressure, as a family we’re going to need people to pick us up. Everyone have a smile on your face and let’s see what we can do, it’s not a pressure day, enjoy the day and let’s try and get a win. No added pressure needs to be put on each other, let’s stay together as a family.
“Our home record hasn’t been great this season but it’s not about what’s happened in the past, this is a one-off cup final. Whatever anyone can do on the day for us, turn up to make sure we get that win.”